- Action Comics #867, by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank & Jon Sibal (DC)
- Booster Gold #1,000,000, by Geoff Johns, Jeff Katz, Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund (DC)
- Justice Society of America #17, by Geoff Johns, Alex Ross, Fernando Pasarin & Prentis Rollins (DC)
- Guardians of the Galaxy #3, by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Paul Pelletier & Rick Magyar (Marvel)
- Nova #15, by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Wallington Alves & Scott Hanna (Marvel)
- Astonishing X-Men #25, by Warren Ellis & Simone Bianchi (Marvel)
- B.P.R.D.: The Warning #1 of 5, by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi & Guy Davis (Dark Horse)
Geoff Johns & Jeff Katz’ run on Booster Gold ends with issue #1,000,000 – an homage of sorts to the DC One Million company event of last decade, much like there was an issue #0 retroactively tying in to the Zero Hour event. Cute, but this sort of in-joke amidst the more serious story has been the series’ stock-in-trade all along. Anyway, the pair put out an even dozen issues of the series, and it’s been consistently smart and enjoyable.
The series’ premise involves Booster Gold being recruited by Rip Hunter (Time Master) to help stop people who are changing history. Rip’s true identity is a mystery, and he’s something of a hard-ass. At first Booster is willing to go along, but then he gets it into his head that he could use his time-travelling devices to save his best friend, Blue Beetle, from having been killed in Countdown to Infinite Crisis. Rip does his level best to prove to Booster that he can’t truly change history, but Booster does anyway, saving Beetle but at the price of Maxwell Lord and his legion of OMACs wiping out most of the heroes on Earth. To stop this, Beetle volunteers to go back to sacrifice himself to put things back the way they should be.
All that being behind us, this issue is the denouement, which nicely wraps up most of the major plot elements, gives Booster a happy ending (hearkening back to his first series, back in the 1980s), and throws in some other neat stuff before spending a page foreshadowing what’s coming up in the next year. Which will be written by someone other than Johns and Katz, but that’s okay.
You don’t need to have read all the backstory to fully enjoy Booster Gold, although it does help. But the central tension between Booster and Rip, and Booster’s friendship with Blue Beetle, works even if you’re largely ignorant of what’s gone before, and this issue is a fine wrap-up to the arc of the past year. (Even if it didn’t address Johanna Carlson’s concerns, I think it’s still a nicely optimistic wrap-up.)
And penciller Dan Jurgens – who co-created Booster Gold when he broke into comics in the 80s – deserves a lot of credit for the run, too. I’ve never been Jurgens’ biggest fan – his art is a little too posed and polished for my tastes – but he’s always been a decent creator, and I think he’s done some of his best work ever on this run, and frankly the story really demanded a clean line and straightforward layouts because there was always so much going on. It really played to Jurgens’ strengths.
So, good show, guys. Maybe Geoff Johns’ best run since The Flash. Here’s hoping the next year is as good.
I decided to give Astonishing X-Men a try after learning that Warren Ellis is writing it. Ellis is one of those writers who’s full of ideas, but his execution is very hit-or-miss. He’s similar to Grant Morrison in this way, except that Ellis generally has more depth and character to his stories. So he’s written the outstanding Planetary, but also some pretty unreadable stuff from Avatar.
Astonishing X-Men is looking like it’s below the median in his range. It’s got yet another sequence in which the writer sets up the book with his group of X-Men (if this wasn’t a tired gimmick when Morrison did it in New X-Men, it certainly was when Joss Whedon did it at the beginning of this series), the obligatory clever dialogue to set up minor character conflicts (with the obligatory Wolverine snark amidst it all), and then we’re off on our first mission. All rather routine stuff.
Simone Bianchi’s art is pretty good, although it’s not very dynamic and it feels pretty muddy – it looks like it was shot straight from pencils, and that’s a hard look to pull off. (Not everyone can be – or should try to be – Mike Grell or Michael Zulli.)
I’ll check out a few more issues to see if it finds its wings, but the early returns aren’t promising.